Road conditions questioned

Published 4:50 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Adverse road conditions along the area of Route 40 toward the Town of Kenbridge, particularly with manholes that dip below the road and could cause tire or vehicle issues, and debris as a result of roadwork in the Town of Victoria, continue to plague drivers. The Dispatch contacted a representative from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and area leaders to learn how these issues are addressed or solved.

VDOT South Hill Representative Billy Smith said Friday that manholes that are at a lower level than the road are common complaints from people in the area.

“Low manholes are always a concern of the traveling public and we receive complaints often,” Smith said, noting the majority of local complaints relate to Route 40. “These complaints are relayed to the towns that are responsible for the utilities. The manholes are normally repaired by the town by adding adjustment rings or asphalt. When the roadway surface is being repaved, we work with the towns during the paving operation to make adjustments to the manholes to eliminate bumps.”

He noted that while low manholes can present a problem, raising the manhole, particularly to the point where the manhole cover rises above the pavement, can also create issues.

“If you put a 1-inch ring or a taller ring on to bring them up level, sometimes that puts them higher than the pavement,” Smith said. “You definitely don’t want a manhole higher than the pavement when we’re pushing snow, as snow equipment hangs them and tears up our snow equipment, plus it tears up the manhole … It’s really hard to get manholes exactly even with the pavement. We don’t want them higher. If they can’t get them exact, they leave them a little bit low, which is best for everybody.”

Smith explained that the steel top and steel ring that make up the manhole, encased in concrete and asphalt, means trouble for snow equipment if it runs over the manhole.

He said the towns work with VDOT to address road issues.

Kenbridge Town Manager Robyn Fowler said resources within the town affect its ability to work through some road issues.

“The Town has addressed the low manholes to the best of our ability by inserting taller risers,” Fowler said, referring to tools that raise manholes to be more level with the road. “Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to do anything else to them at this time. VDOT maintains the roads and whenever VDOT comes through to pave it (the road), we can address them then.”

Fowler said she was unsure of when VDOT would pave the road.

Fowler and Smith noted a time last summer or fall when a vehicle had taken off the top of a manhole close to the Lunenburg Animal Hospital on 101 Lee Road, but Smith said the incident was addressed and fixed by town crews.

In response to debris on the road as a result of roadwork in the Town of Victoria, Victoria Town Manager Rodney Newton said

“It is a cooperative agreement but many of these are left until the work is completed and then repairs are made,” Newton said. “As with many other small municipalities crews are pulled from job to job sometimes it takes some time to complete a project.”

Regarding manholes in Victoria, Newton said, “The Town of Victoria is in a very similar situation to the Town of Kenbridge in dealing with low manholes. With the exception of three streets in the Town of Victoria all streets are maintained by VDOT. As they are doing maintenance we work with them to attempt to maintain the covers at the proper level.”

“Another issue that often causes issues is that sewer manholes on many of the residential streets become covered as surface treatment of the roads are completed,” Newton said, “and then when access to the sewer system is needed it creates a low place in the road.”